The Course of Reason

The Course of Reason On Air Session 2: Wrap-Up

August 30, 2013

On Tuesday, Cody Hashman hosted CFI On Campus’ second session of The Course of Reason On Air. We were joined by 3 students from schools across the US and Sam Shore from the Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB), all of whom have experience and success in raising money for Light the Night (LTN). 


Below is an outline of the discussion from the session as well as links and resources that will help you set up a successful Light the Night team and participate in Hug an Atheist Week. 

Introductions [1:05]

What is Light the Night [2:45] 

Why is it important that “we” are participating in Light the Night [5:20] 

  • Harrison: It’s important to support groups like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) that actually do science instead of just talking about how we like science. It fulfills one of our goals as humanists.
  • Ellen: Cancer affects everyone. Supporting LLS helps provide life-saving support to families and victims of cancer, while also showing that non-religious people are doing good in the world.
  • Brandon: Every student group should get involved in doing good. Participation sends a powerful message that we can unite as atheists/humanists to do good in the world.

How can participation in Light the Night benefit your group? [9:20] 

  • Ellen: Visible participation in LTN and Hug an Atheist Week elevates the image the non-religious and highlights of what student groups do. You can also get more members.
  • Sam: Participation can elevate the status of not only your group, but also non-religious people in general in the community.
  • Harrison: Participation in LTN helped our interactions with other campus groups on campus and generally boosted our image on campus.
  • Brandon: Benefitted the group, but also benefitted the individuals in our group. It gave group members an opportunity to “come out” and share their humanistic values with friends and family that may not be comfortable with their non-belief.

What are some other incentives? [14:39] 

  • Sam: Monetary incentives are available to participating student groups
  • Harrison: Our group was awarded $2,000 from FBB last year to distribute to qualifying local, national organizations.
  • Sam: Incentives are also available for local groups.

What are some of the practical things that groups need to know about how to participate? [18:25] 

  • Harrison: Tutorials/instructions on how to set up a team and become associated with FBB in order for the funds your team raises to be eligible for the Stiefel family matching grant can be found at
  • Sam: Make sure that your team name ends in “-FBB” to be eligible for the $250,000 matching grant.
  • Ellen: Our group used the Square app to help students that don’t carry cash to donate. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also provides fundraising starter packets if you request one.
  • Harrison: There are many tools that LLS provides after you set your team up such as images and online fundraising tools: You can also contact your local Light the Night coordinator for help.
  • Cody: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has developed a smartphone app that allows for your group to easily take credit card and check donations. Link:

How important is it that you set attainable goals. [26:00] 

  • Brandon: It’s better to start with an attainable goal, but keep in mind that you can always change your goal via your team page. Celebrate hitting your first goal. 

What are your groups doing this year to raise money for your teams other than Hug an Atheist Week. [27:40] 

  • Brandon:
    - Don’t forget to ask your group members; college students can skip a latte for a day to help find a cure for cancer.
    - We have contacted local churches for “Send an Atheist to Church Day” in exchange for a monetary donation to our group’s team.
    - Have group members commit to asking 5 family members or friends. A written commitment is better than a verbal one. 
  • Ellen:
    - At a group meeting we are going to ask members to send emails to friends and family members during the meeting.
    - Hosting a “Talentless Show” where people perform talents that they are bad at and then charge people to leave the show.
    - ISSA is planning on hosting a benefit concert at a local pub.
  • Harrison:
    - We were successful in asking local businesses to help raise money for our LTN team.
    - Just ask, the worst that they can do is say is “no.”
    - Emphasize that your are raising money for cancer research and that any money they help raise is going to be matched dollar for dollar.

What is Hug an Atheist Week and why should groups participate? [38:44] 

  • Sam: HAAW is taking place during the first week in October (1-7) and is a great opportunity to get your group involved in Light the Night. It involves exhcanging hugs for monetary donations. It’s that simple. It’s the ideal fundraiser for student groups and elevates the status of your local non-religious community and gives your group members something fun to do. A guide for how to host Hug an Atheist Week can be found here:
  • Ellen:
    - Beyond actually raising a lot of money for our Light the Night our team, our group’s members had a lot of fun. Emphasizing that donations will be matched can help encourage students to donate. 
    - Having different levels of hugs (i.e. $1 for quick hug, $5 for group hug) was fun and useful.
    - Keep in mind some people don’t necessarily want to be hugged. Give people options.
    - Make sure there are people of both genders giving hugs to make everyone is comfortable and having fun!

What are some incentives for participating in Hug an Atheist Week? [45:55]

  • Sam: The Stiefel Freethought Foundation is providing $100 grants to participating student groups if they create a video of their experience. There will be an online form in the coming weeks to apply for this grant. You can also email Sam at to learn more about the $100 grants. 


If you have any questions about participating in Light the Night or Hug an Atheist Week you can contact Sam Shore at You can also visit CFI’s Light the Night page, our Light the Night Fundraising page, or the CFI Hug an Atheist page

This session’s guests include: 

Sam Shore
Foundation Beyond Belief
Light the Night Coordinator






Ellen Andrews
Illini Secular Student Alliance
Outreach Chair






Brandon Frederick
Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics @ UW-Madison
Volunteer Co-Chair






Harrison Hopkins
Alliance of Secular Humanists at Presbyterian College








About the Author: Cody Hashman

Cody Hashman's photo
Cody Hashman is a Campus and Community Organizer at the Center for Inquiry. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, with a degree in Psychology, where he was the co-founder and president of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers.




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